Defamation Act 1992

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Reprint as at 5 December 2013

Defamation Act 1992

Public Act1992 No 105
Date of assent26 November 1992
Commencementsee section 1(2)


Changes authorised by subpart 2 of Part 2 of the Legislation Act 2012 have been made in this reprint.

Note 4 at the end of this reprint provides a list of the amendments incorporated.

This Act is administered by the Ministry of Justice.



1 Short Title and commencement

2 Interpretation

3 Application

Part 1
Causes of action

4 Defamation actionable without proof of special damage

5 Malicious falsehood actionable without proof of special damage

6 Proceedings for defamation brought by body corporate

7 Single publication to constitute one cause of action

Part 2


8 Truth

Honest opinion

9 Honest opinion

10 Opinion must be genuine

11 Defendant not required to prove truth of every statement of fact

12 Honest opinion where corrupt motive attributed to plaintiff

Absolute privilege

13 Absolute privilege in relation to Parliamentary proceedings

14 Absolute privilege in relation to judicial proceedings and other legal matters

15 Other rules of law relating to absolute privilege not affected

Qualified privilege

16 Qualified privilege

17 Qualified privilege not to apply where publication prohibited

18 Restrictions on qualified privilege in relation to Part 2 of Schedule 1

19 Rebuttal of qualified privilege


20 Joint publishers

21 Innocent dissemination

22 Consent to publication

23 Evidence of adequacy of redress

Part 3

24 Declarations

25 Retraction or reply

26 Court may recommend correction

27 Court may make recommendations as to content, etc, of correction

28 Punitive damages

29 Matters to be taken into account in mitigation of damages

30 Misconduct of plaintiff in mitigation of damages

31 Other evidence in mitigation of damages

32 Defendant's right to prove other matters in mitigation of damages not affected

33 Review of damages

34 Statements in open court

Part 4

35 Powers of Judge to call conference and give directions

36 Functions of Judge and jury in relation to meaning of matter

37 Particulars of defamatory meaning

38 Particulars in defence of truth

39 Notice of allegation that opinion not genuinely held

40 Truth and honest opinion to be pleaded separately

41 Particulars of ill will

42 Notice of evidence of bad reputation

43 Claims for damages

44 Particulars in support of claim for punitive damages

45 Proceedings deemed to be vexatious if no intention to proceed to trial

46 Proceedings in respect of publication in different media of same matter

47 Notice of multiple actions

48 Consolidation of actions on application of defendants

49 Limitation on subsequent actions

50 Striking out for want of prosecution

51 Evidence as to publisher or printer

52 General verdict by jury

Part 5
Miscellaneous provisions

53 Agreements to indemnify against liability for defamation

54 Act not to derogate from Parliamentary privilege, etc

55 Amendment to Limitation Act 1950 [Repealed]

56 Repeals, revocations, and consequential amendments

Schedule 1
Publications protected by qualified privilege

Schedule 2
Enactments amended

Schedule 3
Enactments repealed

Reprint notes

An Act to amend the law relating to defamation and other malicious falsehoods